China's year-on-year growth in consumer price index rose to 5.4 percent last month, as the Lunar New Year holiday pushed up food demand while the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak delayed supply, official data said on Monday.
The CPI, a main gauge for inflation, rose by 5.4 percent year-on-year in January, versus the 4.5 percent for December and November, with pork prices remaining the biggest contributor to higher price levels, said the National Bureau of Statistics.
Pork prices soared by 116 percent from a year earlier last month and contributed more than a half the CPI growth.
Food prices as a whole rose by 20.6 percent, up 3.2 percentage points from a month earlier, while the growth in nonfood prices edged up to 1.6 percent, official data said.
"Both the Lunar New Year and the novel coronavirus pneumonia have driven up the CPI," said a NBS senior statistician Dong Lijuan, adding that a low base effect also pushed up the figure.
The Lunar New Year fell in January this year but February last year, making this year's high season of food consumption come a month earlier.
On a month-on-month basis, the CPI rose by 1.4 percent last month, compared with December's unchanged price level, the NBS said.
The CPI may have peaked in January and then turned into a downward trajectory, as hog production has gradually restored from November and as the low base effect fades from February, said a China Merchants Securities report.
The novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak, however, may marginally push up price levels shortly, while the impact may wane swiftly starting from March, the report said.
The NBS data also showed that the year-on-year rise in core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, edged up by 0.1 percentage point from a month earlier to 1.5 percent in January, indicating a modest improvement in domestic demand.